Innovation changes the world, not regulations!
As consumers, we often underestimate the great power in our own hands. Our day-to-day spending decisions have a profound effect on the economy. People know better what is best for them than anybody else can – be it Nokia, Blackberry, Kodak, or MySpace. Consumers decided that the product wasn’t good enough anymore, not regulation or bans. Innovation changes the world, not regulations! Sadly, this fact is often overlooked when it comes to policy discussions about all kinds of regulation of consumer goods. People are unique, and one-size-fits-all solutions are rarely effective.
There is no better example of mishandling consumer issues than the fight against smoking.[box type=”info” align=”” class=”” width=””]According to the WHO, more than 8 million people die each year directly or indirectly from smoking. Yes, smoking kills nearly half of its consumers, which is unacceptable[/box]
However, most people cannot quit immediately. A variety of quitting aids is by far the most efficient way to beat smoking, allowing consumers to choose an option that suits their needs.
It turns out that vaping is one of the most effective tools for smoking cessation. It allows smokers to replace the habit of smoking with a much less harmful one, using flavours that also make smokers forget the taste of tobacco. Public Health England has been updating its landmark report on vaping every year with the same conclusions: Vaping is 95% less harmful than combustible tobacco. This has led to e-cigarettes becoming the most recommended means of quitting for smokers in the United Kingdom. A brand new study from Temple University also concluded that “taken together, independent data from multiple laboratories clearly demonstrated the reduced toxicity of ENDS [e-cigarettes] products compared to cigarettes.” Another less harmful way to quit smoking is snus. It is an oral product which is placed between the upper lip and gum and delivers nicotine without combustion. Due to the openness towards snus, a form of smokeless tobacco, Sweden reports one of the lowest adult smoking rate in the world, at just 7%. The result is lower rates of smoking-induced illnesses. Norway experienced similar success due to its relaxed approach to snus regulation.
Despite all of the benefits of those alternatives have, anti-smoking activists managed to persuade too many politicians that these products are as bad as smoking. In doing so, they single-handedly undermined the advantages that they bring to smoking cessation.
The logical path for governments should be to prioritise resources to help smokers quit, such as vaping, thereby reducing the number of smokers.
Instead, we see increasing attacks in many countries. For example, Indian authorities have banned e-cigarettes completely even though 30 million smokers in India and 200 million worldwide could switch to vaping if the government would follow the example of the United Kingdom. Additionally, the denial of reality by the WHO seems to get even more absurd and flavour bans are looming behind every corner and snus is in many countries fully bannedTherefore, 100 highly respected scientists and experts urged the WHO to “change its hostile stance on tobacco harm reduction”.Unfortunately, these experts are ignored. The same applies to consumers. For too long, the discussions have taken place behind closed doors. Against the background of almost 100 million users of less harmful alternatives to smoking such as vaping or snus this is a disgrace.
By constantly demonising less harmful alternatives, fewer smokers are quitting. This is a fact. In some countries like the US, 80% of physicians falsely believe that nicotine causes cancer. As a result, they fail to prescribe or recommend alternatives that would save people from smoking. The public perception when it comes to nicotine is unfortunately also flawed. 57% of respondents in a survey falsely agreed with the statement that “nicotine in cigarettes is the substance that causes most of the cancer caused by smoking”. The lack of education in this field is literally killing millions.
- If we want to build a better world for consumers, they need to be able to properly be informed about the choices they make, and innovative products must be available and affordable. They must be regulated according to their relative risk. One size fits all is never a solution as choices differ.
- The World Vapers’ Alliance (WVA) amplifies the voice of vapers around the world and empowers them to make a difference for their communities. Our members are vapers associations as well as individual vapers from all over the world.
About the Author
[author title=”” image=”http://”]Michael Landl, Director, World Vapers’ Alliance.
Michael Landl is the director of the World Vapers’ Alliance. He is from Austria and based in Vienna. He is an experienced policy professional and passionate vaper. He studied at the University of St. Gallen and has worked for several public policy outlets and as well in the German Parliament.[/box][/author]